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Prenatal glucocorticoid overexposure has been shown to programme adult cardiovascular function in a range of species, but much less is known about the long-term effects of neonatal glucocorticoid overexposure. In horses, prenatal maturation of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis and the normal prepartum surge in fetal cortisol occur late in gestation compared to other precocious species. Cortisol levels continue to rise in the hours after birth of full-term foals and increase further in the subsequent days in premature, dysmature and maladapted foals. Thus, this study examined the adult cardiovascular consequences of neonatal cortisol overexposure induced by adrenocorticotropic hormone administration to full-term male and female pony foals. After catheterisation at 2–3 years of age, basal arterial blood pressures (BP) and heart rate were measured together with the responses to phenylephrine (PE) and sodium nitroprusside (SNP). These data were used to assess cardiac baroreflex sensitivity. Neonatal cortisol overexposure reduced both the pressor and bradycardic responses to PE in the young adult males, but not females. It also enhanced the initial hypotensive response to SNP, slowed recovery of BP after infusion and reduced the gain of the cardiac baroreflex in the females, but not males. Basal diastolic pressure and cardiac baroreflex sensitivity also differed with sex, irrespective of neonatal treatment. The results show that there is a window of susceptibility for glucocorticoid programming during the immediate neonatal period that alters cardiovascular function in young adult horses in a sex-linked manner.
Several preclinical studies have demonstrated neuronal effects of glucocorticoids on the hippocampus (HC), a limbic structure with anterior–posterior anatomical and functional segmentation. We propose a volumetric magnetic resonance imaging analysis of hippocampus head (HH), body (HB) and tail (HT) using Cushing's disease (CD) as model, to investigate whether there is a differential sensitivity to glucocorticoid neuronal damage in these segments. We found a significant difference in the HH bilaterally after 12 months from trans-sphenoidal surgical selective resection of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary micro-adenomas. This pre–post surgery difference could contribute to better understand the pathopysiology of CD as an in vivo model for stress-related hypercortisolemic neuropsychiatric disorders.
To prove the hypothesis of a common defect in the central nervous system and immune system in patients with major depression, we examined the inhibition of phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-induced lymphocyte proliferation by in vitro and in vivo administration of glucocorticoids in 20 patients with major depression. The patients were divided into two groups according to the results of the dexamethasone suppression test (DST). Six patients showed cortisol non-suppression. They had significantly higher baseline plasma cortisol levels in comparison with cortisol suppressors. The lymphocytes from cortisol non-suppressors were significantly stronger inhibited by in vitro administration of glucocorticoids compared to the lymphocytes from cortisol suppressors. However, there were no significant differences of lymphocyte inhibition by in vivo administration of glucocorticoids between both patient groups. From our results we conclude that cortisol non-suppressors reveal impaired down-regulation of glucocorticoid receptors of lymphocytes. Furthermore, the effect of glucocorticoids on lymphocyte reactivity may reflect the effects on brain structures in patients with major depression.
Exposure to glucocorticoid levels higher than appropriate for current developmental stages induces offspring metabolic dysfunction. Overfed/obese (OB) ewes and their fetuses display elevated blood cortisol, while fetal Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) remains unchanged. We hypothesized that OB pregnancies would show increased placental 11β hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 2 (11β-HSD2) that converts maternal cortisol to fetal cortisone as it crosses the placenta and increased 11β-HSD system components responsible for peripheral tissue cortisol production, providing a mechanism for ACTH-independent increase in circulating fetal cortisol. Control ewes ate 100% National Research Council recommendations (CON) and OB ewes ate 150% CON diet from 60 days before conception until necropsy at day 135 gestation. At necropsy, maternal jugular and umbilical venous blood, fetal liver, perirenal fat, and cotyledonary tissues were harvested. Maternal plasma cortisol and fetal cortisol and cortisone were measured. Fetal liver, perirenal fat, cotyledonary 11β-HSD1, hexose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (H6PD), and 11β-HSD2 protein abundance were determined by Western blot. Maternal plasma cortisol, fetal plasma cortisol, and cortisone were higher in OB vs. CON (p < 0.01). 11β-HSD2 protein was greater (p < 0.05) in OB cotyledonary tissue than CON. 11β-HSD1 abundance increased (p < 0.05) in OB vs. CON fetal liver and perirenal fat. Fetal H6PD, an 11β-HSD1 cofactor, also increased (p < 0.05) in OB vs. CON perirenal fat and tended to be elevated in OB liver (p < 0.10). Our data provide evidence for increased 11β-HSD system components responsible for peripheral tissue cortisol production in fetal liver and adipose tissue, thereby providing a mechanism for an ACTH-independent increase in circulating fetal cortisol in OB fetuses.
Both parasitism and social contact are common sources of stress that many gregarious species encounter in nature. Upon encountering such stressors, individuals secrete glucocorticoids and although short-term elevation of glucocorticoids is adaptive, long-term increases are correlated with higher mortality and deleterious reproductive effects. Here, we used an experimental host-parasite system, social rodents Acomys cahirinus and their characteristic fleas Parapulex chephrenis, in a fully-crossed design to test the effects of social contact and parasitism on stress during pregnancy. By analysing faecal glucocorticoid metabolites, we found that social hierarchy did not have a significant effect on glucocorticoid concentration. Rather, solitary females had significantly higher glucocorticoid levels than females housed in pairs. We found a significant interaction between the stressors of parasitism and social contact with solitary, uninfested females having the highest faecal glucocorticoid metabolite levels suggesting that both social contact and infestation mitigate allostatic load in pregnant rodents. Therefore, the increased risk of infestation that accompanies group-living could be outweighed by positive aspects of social contact within A. cahirinus colonies in nature.
Vitamin C (VC) is a vital micronutrient for humans and some other mammals and also has antioxidant activity. Stress-induced elevation of glucocorticoid production is well known to cause immunosuppression. The present study evaluated the effect of high VC intake on glucocorticoid-induced immune changes in mice. Senescence marker protein 30 knockout mice with genetic VC deficiency were fed a diet containing the recommended VC content (20 mg/kg per d; 0·02 %VC group) or a high VC content (200 mg/kg per d; 0·2 %VC group) for 2 months, then dexamethasone was given by intraperitoneal injection. After administration of dexamethasone, the plasma ascorbic acid concentration decreased significantly in the 0·02 %VC group and was unchanged in wild-type C57BL/6 mice on a VC-deficient diet (wild-type group), while it was significantly higher in the 0·2 %VC group compared with the other two groups. In the 0·02 %VC and wild-type groups, dexamethasone caused a significant decrease in the cluster of differentiation (CD)4+ and CD8+ T cells among splenocytes as well as a significant decrease in IL-2, IL-12p40 and interferon-γ protein production by splenocytes and a significant decrease in T-cell proliferation among splenocytes. In the 0·2 %VC group, these dexamethasone-induced immunosuppression improved when compared with the other two groups. In addition, reduction in the intracellular levels of ascorbic acid, superoxide dismutase and glutathione in splenocytes by dexamethasone as well as elevation in thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances were significantly suppressed in the 0·2 %VC group. These findings suggest that high dietary VC intake reduces glucocorticoid-induced T-cell dysfunction by maintaining intracellular antioxidant activity.
Synthetic glucocorticoids, to enhance fetal maturation, are a standard treatment when preterm birth before 34 gestational weeks is imminent. While morbidity- and mortality-related benefits may outweigh potential neurodevelopmental harms in children born preterm (<37 gestational weeks), this may not hold true when pregnancy continues to term (⩾37 gestational weeks). We studied the association of antenatal betamethasone exposure on child mental health in preterm and term children.
We included 4708 women and their children, born 2006–2010, from the Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia and Intrauterine Growth Restriction Study with information on both antenatal betamethasone treatment and child mental and behavioral disorders from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register from the child's birth to 31 December 2016. Additional follow-up data on mother-reported psychiatric problems and developmental milestones were available for 2640 children at 3.5 (s.d. = 0.07) years-of-age.
Of the children, 187 were born preterm (61 betamethasone-exposed) and 4521 at term (56 betamethasone-exposed). The prevalence of any mental and behavioral, psychological development, emotional and behavioral, and comorbid disorders was higher in the betamethasone-exposed, compared to non-exposed children [odds ratio 2.76 (95% confidence interval 1.76–4.32), 3.61 (2.19–5.95), 3.29 (1.86–5.82), and 6.04 (3.25–11.27), respectively]. Levels of psychiatric problems and prevalence of failure to meet the age-appropriate development in personal-social skills were also higher in mother-reports of betamethasone-exposed children. These associations did not vary significantly between preterm and term children.
Antenatal betamethasone exposure may be associated with mental health problems in children born preterm and in those who end up being born at term.
Immunoglobulin G4 related disease is a recently described systemic syndrome. The head and neck region is the second most common site for presentation after the pancreas.
PubMed and the Cochrane Library were searched from 1995 to July 2017 for all the studies on immunoglobulin G4 related disease diagnosed in the head and neck compartment. Patient-specific data were extracted and basic statistical analysis was performed.
Ninety-one patients were identified. Treatment was specified in 76 patients. Twenty patients received surgical treatment, eight of them in association with medical therapy. Fifty-six patients received medical treatment. The disease recurred in 25 per cent of patients treated with surgical treatment alone, in 3.6 per cent of patients treated with medical treatment alone and in 12.5 per cent of patients treated with both. All medical treatment protocols contained high-dose corticosteroids.
Early and correct diagnosis can avoid unnecessary surgical treatment, and glucocorticoid therapy can improve the long-term prognosis.
The aim of this study was to assess the provision of information to, and seeking of information by, patients newly diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) in primary care.
PMR is an inflammatory rheumatological condition of older people that can be treated with long-term oral glucocorticoids. Management usually requires the patient to understand the potential complications of treatment and the disease, as well as involvement in reducing treatment dose. This may be complex for patients to understand.
Data are taken from the baseline phase of the PMR Cohort study, which recruited newly diagnosed patients with PMR from UK primary care. Participants provided information on their PMR symptoms, general health and sociodemographics. They also completed items regarding information provision by their doctor at diagnosis, its usefulness and their own search for information.
A total of 652 people responded to the baseline survey. In all, 399 (62.7%) had received written information from their doctor; 237 (98%) found it useful; 265 (42.9%) would have liked more information; and 311 (48.4%) sought out more information. Those who were not given information and did not seek it out tended to be older and have poorer internet access.
Information provided at diagnosis to patients with PMR is useful, but more than a third did not receive any. This is concerning when PMR requires self-management and vigilance for red flags. Doctors should make use of the resources already available to them to support patients and should specifically ensure that these are available to more elderly patients and those without internet access.
Recent findings highlight that there are prenatal risks for affective disorders that are mediated by glucocorticoid mechanisms, and may be specific to females. There is also evidence of sex differences in prenatal programming mechanisms and developmental psychopathology, whereby effects are in opposite directions in males and females. As birth weight is a risk for affective disorders, we sought to investigate whether maternal prenatal cortisol may have sex-specific effects on fetal growth. Participants were 241 mothers selected from the Wirral Child Health and Development Study (WCHADS) cohort (n=1233) using a psychosocial risk stratifier, so that responses could be weighted back to the general population. Mothers provided saliva samples, which were assayed for cortisol, at home over 2 days at 32 weeks gestation (on waking, 30-min post-waking and during the evening). Measures of infant birth weight (corrected for gestational age) were taken from hospital records. General population estimates of associations between variables were obtained using inverse probability weights. Maternal log of the area under the curve cortisol predicted infant birth weight in a sex-dependent manner (interaction term P=0.029). There was a positive and statistically significant association between prenatal cortisol in males, and a negative association in females that was not statistically significant. A sex interaction in the same direction was evident when using the waking (P=0.015), and 30-min post-waking (P=0.013) cortisol, but not the evening measure. There was no interaction between prenatal cortisol and sex to predict gestational age. Our findings add to an emerging literature that suggests that there may be sex-specific mechanisms that underpin fetal programming.
The reduction of reproductive performance associated with stress is a known phenomenon in domestic birds. This review demonstrates the involvement of glucocorticoids, a stress hormone, in the decision-making process regarding energy ingestion and distribution in laying hens. During the energetic challenge induced by a stressful environment, corticosterone stimulates energy intake and a preference for a high-fat diet by up-regulating neuropeptide Y (NPY) expression via the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. The elevated corticosterone levels in response to stressors may be associated with suppressed reproduction in laying hens via a possible perturbation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Corticosterone suppresses follicular development and is energy dependent by decreasing the availability of the circulating yolk precursor and the prevention of yolk deposition in follicles. Energy status is also involved in rejuvenation in moult hens.
Laboratory investigations have shown the role of inflammation in the pathogenesis of pulmonary hypertension and improvement after anti-inflammatory drugs. Despite these observations, reports on the use of steroids to treat pulmonary hypertension in humans are absent from the literature. In this article, we report the use of glucocorticoids in the treatment of two children with pulmonary hypertension, demonstrating its potential utility.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and can be considered the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. NAFLD represents a spectrum of disease, from the relatively benign simple steatosis to the more serious non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which can progress to liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma and end-stage liver failure, necessitating liver transplantation. Although the increasing prevalence of NAFLD in developed countries has substantial implications for public health, many of the precise mechanisms accounting for the development and progression of NAFLD are unclear. The environment in early life is an important determinant of cardiovascular disease risk in later life and studies suggest this also extends to NAFLD. Here we review data from animal models and human studies which suggest that fetal and early life exposure to maternal under- and overnutrition, excess glucocorticoids and environmental pollutants may confer an increased susceptibility to NAFLD development and progression in offspring and that such effects may be sex-specific. We also consider studies aimed at identifying potential dietary and pharmacological interventions aimed at reducing this risk. We suggest that further human epidemiological studies are needed to ensure that data from animal models are relevant to human health.
We investigated the physiology of two closely related albatross species relative to their breeding strategy: black-browed albatrosses (Thalassarche melanophris) breed annually, while grey-headed albatrosses (T. chrysostoma) breed biennially. From observations of breeding fate and blood samples collected at the end of breeding in one season and feather corticosterone levels (fCort) sampled at the beginning of the next breeding season, we found that in both species some post-breeding physiological parameters differed according to breeding outcome (successful, failed, deferred). Correlations between post-breeding physiology and fCort, and links to future breeding decisions, were examined. In black-browed albatrosses, post-breeding physiology and fCort were not significantly correlated, but fCort independently predicted breeding decision the next year, which we interpret as a possible migratory carry-over effect. In grey-headed albatrosses, post-breeding triglyceride levels were negatively correlated with fCort, but only in females, which we interpret as a potential cost of reproduction. However, this potential cost did not carry-over to future breeding in the grey-headed albatrosses. None of the variables predicted future breeding decisions. We suggest that biennial breeding in the grey-headed albatrosses may have evolved as a strategy to buffer against the apparent susceptibility of females to negative physiological costs of reproduction. Future studies are needed to confirm this.
Epidemiological data show that osteoarthritis (OA) is significantly associated with lower birth weight, and that OA may be a type of fetal-originated adult disease. The present study aimed to investigate the prenatal food-restriction (PFR) effect on the quality of articular cartilage in female offspring to explore the underlying mechanisms of fetal-originated OA. Maternal rats were fed a restricted diet from gestational day (GD) 11 to 20 to induce intra-uterine growth retardation. Female fetuses and female adult offspring fed a post-weaning high-fat diet were killed at GD20 and postnatal week 24, respectively. Serum and knee cartilage samples from fetuses and adult female offspring were collected and examined for cholesterol metabolism and histology. Fetal serum corticosterone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in the PFR group were lower than those of the control, but the serum cholesterol level was not changed. The lower expression of IGF-1 in the PFR group lasted into adulthood. The expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) genes, including type II collagen, aggrecan and cholesterol efflux genes including liver X receptor, were significantly induced, but the ATP-binding-cassette transporter A1 was unchanged. PFR could induce a reduction in ECM synthesis and impaired cholesterol efflux in female offspring, and eventually led to poor quality of articular cartilage and OA.
Many Neotropical felids are threatened with extinction due to direct effects of habitat destruction and/or human persecution. However, indirect and synergistic effects of human-felid conflict remain under-studied and potentially include increased stress and diet shifts that may negatively impact felid health. We hypothesized that faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGM) and endoparasite species richness (ESR) would be higher, and diet would shift, for felids outside protected areas where conflict occurs. In north-western Belize, a scat-detector dog located 336 faecal samples, identified to species and individual using DNA analyses. DNA amplification success was substantially higher within protected areas than outside. We detected jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi and domestic cat. FGMs were higher in puma and jaguarundi than in other felids, while ESR was similar across felids with domestic cats exhibiting the highest number of genera. Diet partitioning occurred among felids, but domestic cats may compete with ocelot and jaguarundi for small prey. Outside of protected areas, large cats shifted their diet to smaller prey and livestock remains were not found. Contrary to our hypotheses, FGM and ESR did not differ inside versus outside protected areas, but sample sizes were low in human-modified areas. We provide a baseline on wild felid adrenal activity, endoparasites and diet and suggest improvements to increase sample sizes outside protected areas. Our research provides a template for expanding non-invasive sampling approaches more widely across the range of Neotropical felids.
Since their introduction more than forty years ago, antenatal glucocorticoids have become a cornerstone in the management of preterm birth and have been responsible for substantial reductions in neonatal mortality and morbidity. Clinical trials conducted over the past decade have shown that these benefits may be increased further through administration of repeat doses of antenatal glucocorticoids in women at ongoing risk of preterm and in those undergoing elective cesarean at term. At the same time, a growing body of experimental animal evidence and observational data in humans has linked fetal overexposure to maternal glucocorticoids with increased risk of cardiovascular, metabolic and other disorders in later life. Despite these concerns, and somewhat surprisingly, there has been little evidence to date from randomized trials of longer-term harm from clinical doses of synthetic glucocorticoids. However, with wider clinical application of antenatal glucocorticoid therapy there has been greater need to consider the potential for later adverse effects. This paper reviews current evidence for the short- and long-term health effects of antenatal glucocorticoids and discusses the apparent discrepancy between data from randomized clinical trials and other studies.
Immunoglobulin G4 related disease is an inflammatory condition characterised by the presence of fibrotic lesions infiltrated by immunoglobulin G4 positive plasma cells. It can arise from almost any region of the body and it is being increasingly recognised in the head and neck. Regardless of the site of involvement, the histopathological resemblance is remarkable. Dense lymphoplasmacytic infiltration, overabundance of immunoglobulin G4 bearing plasma cells and presence of storiform fibrosis are typical findings.
This paper presents two cases of immunoglobulin G4 related disease in which there was involvement of the orbit, the infraorbital nerve and the infratemporal fossa. Diagnosis was established in both cases by biopsying radiologically abnormal tissue in the infratemporal fossa.
An awareness of this condition is required to establish the diagnosis and initiate appropriate therapy. Glucocorticoids are the mainstay of initial treatment. The effectiveness of B-lymphocyte depletion with rituximab has also been reported. Correct diagnosis may spare patients from unnecessarily radical surgery.
To investigate endoscopic staging, and nitric oxide levels in the polyp tissue, in patients with nasal polyposis undergoing glucocorticoid therapy.
Nasal polyposis was evaluated using endoscopic staging and measurement of polyp tissue nitric oxide levels (chemiluminescence method). Forty-five nasal polyposis patients received either nasal therapy (n = 15), oral therapy (n = 15) or combined therapy (n = 15). Pre-treatment and post-treatment staging and nitric oxide levels were evaluated.
Endoscopic grading indicated significant post-treatment staging improvements in the oral (p = 0.016) and combined (p = 0.016) groups. Post-treatment staging differed significantly between the three groups (p = 0.041), with greater improvements in the oral and combined groups. All groups showed significantly lower post-treatment nitric oxide levels, compared with baseline, but post-treatment levels did not differ significantly between groups. A significant association was found between treatment response and nitric oxide level alteration.
This study demonstrates the favourable effects of glucocorticoids on nasal polyposis, and alteration in nitric oxide tissue levels post-treatment. Nitric oxide level in nasal polyp tissue could be an indicator of treatment response, and may aid surgical decision-making by detecting cases that probably will not respond to medical treatment.
Survivors of critical illnesses often have clinically significant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. This study describes the 2-year prevalence and duration of PTSD symptoms after acute lung injury (ALI), and examines patient baseline and critical illness/intensive care-related risk factors.
This prospective, longitudinal cohort study recruited patients from 13 intensive care units (ICUs) in four hospitals, with follow-up 3, 6, 12 and 24 months after ALI onset. The outcome of interest was an Impact of Events Scale – Revised (IES-R) mean score ⩾1.6 (‘PTSD symptoms’).
During the 2-year follow-up, 66/186 patients (35%) had PTSD symptoms, with the greatest prevalence by the 3-month follow-up. Fifty-six patients with post-ALI PTSD symptoms survived to the 24-month follow-up, and 35 (62%) of these had PTSD symptoms at the 24-month follow-up; 50% had taken psychiatric medications and 40% had seen a psychiatrist since hospital discharge. Risk/protective factors for PTSD symptoms were pre-ALI depression [hazard odds ratio (OR) 1.96, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.06–3.64], ICU length of stay (for a doubling of days, OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.06–1.83), proportion of ICU days with sepsis (per decile, OR 1.08, 95% CI 1.00–1.16), high ICU opiate doses (mean morphine equivalent ⩾100 mg/day, OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.02–4.42) and proportion of ICU days on opiates (per decile, OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.74–0.94) or corticosteroids (per decile, OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.84–0.99).
PTSD symptoms are common, long-lasting and associated with psychiatric treatment during the first 2 years after ALI. Risk factors include pre-ALI depression, durations of stay and sepsis in the ICU, and administration of high-dose opiates in the ICU. Protective factors include durations of opiate and corticosteroid administration in the ICU.